Philosopher, Lao Tzu said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” This journey began 12 years ago, August 2008, marked our “anniversary”. When we began our work in the “doors of Alcoholics Anonymous” there was no plan to become an official organization the following year in 2009.
We’ve helped a lot of people over the past twelve years and done so at a cost much less than it takes to warehouse folks in prisons. And while we began as just a safe place for recovering alcoholics to rest their heads at night, we grew into much more as we began to address: different forms of addiction, child support issues, job placement, physical health, mental health, and transportation needs. It became clear that we needed to support the whole person in this transition, not just address the symptom. We became a point of re-entry for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections by becoming a “home offer” for offenders that fit our profile upon their release. We didn’t even know that re-entry was a term in 2009 when we began doing the work! We also never called ourselves a “Ministry” until others began to do so; well we still don’t, but it’s the work we do by definition. We believe in doing our part to help save the individual and letting their pastors, priests, and others save their souls. We happen to be Christian and lead by EXAMPLE, but don’t necessarily integrate it into our overall philosophy. Taking this stance over the years has cost us charitable contributions, but we’ve stayed committed to the work and the model that works for our clients. Ubuntu is all inclusive and welcoming of everyone despite religious beliefs.
As we reflect on the organization’s growth over the last 12 years and the funding that supports our work, we know that we cannot do this alone. Just as Ubuntu was deemed a “Community Partner” by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, we recognize that we need partners to serve our clients comprehensively. The last few years our programs and services offered have been minimal because our Founder and Executive Director, Kenneth L. Fikes, found himself funding 100% of operations. He did so to ensure that the unique needs or clients were met with unrestricted funding sources. He is the living manifestation of the phrase “whatever it takes” and has been the sole financial supporter of Ubuntu the last few years.
As we all know, 2020, has been the perfect storm. We are experiencing a global pandemic, a struggling economy and extreme financial hardships for citizens across the country. The pandemic has exacerbated the challenges of many citizens who were already struggling to make ends meet. These challenges are only compounded when you add addiction into the mix. National research has shown more than a 55% increase in substance abuse since the pandemic began. While Ubuntu is a nonprofit organization, Mr. Fikes continues to fund operations. Ubuntu is exploring new partners and funding sources to ensure the program is sustainable. To date, the organization has never sought outside funding sources or engaged in fundraising because we were too busy “doing the work”. As we strive to continue to provide excellence in program and service delivery, we are expanding partnerships and engaging donors. Ubuntu has a proven track record of successful programs. The outcomes measured reflect the work and the commitment to our clients. As we continue this journey, we welcome partners in navigating a new path forward.